Independence: Life After Death

imagejpeg_0_edit0_edit0As fear and survival start to ebb away, Anna takes the time to explore life again. This time…it’s on her terms.

After twelve years of abuse and one year of struggling to crawl out from under its affects, Anna is starting to breath again. She is exploring a side of her I haven’t seen since she was in junior high. The last act of rebellion against all that is, that I can remember, was when she shaved her head into a Mohawk. To the skin!!!

IMG_3829_edit0One of the sad realities about living in abuse, violent or otherwise, is that victims often lose the ability to explore themselves as people. There is great loss of the human experience. There isn’t any personal evolution. The term “coppertop” as appropriately used in the Matrix is all that comes to mind.

Part of the psychological and emotional abuse is making as many moments as possible about the abuser. It doesn’t matter what the topic; dinner, travel, entertainment, housing, survival, living, anything really. Victims find that if they have a want or a need it is better to just file that under “I hope to get to that someday”. It’s easier to cope with the personal loss of autonomy than when we aren’t allowed to be mothers to our children because we are too busy catering to our abuser in the hopes that we can detour an episode.

IMG_3834_edit0There is a choice in this mess. Victims can choose to leave. It is one of the most terrifying choices to make, next to staying. It is one of the greatest unknown variables. One of the biggest questions is, “What if isn’t any better than staying and I fail?” Not only is that a huge question, it can be a debilitating one.

But wow! Look at Anna! Not a month ago, a year after she left, she was still ready to curl up fetal in a corner at how overwhelming survival is. The reality is, at some point, we all find that we are no longer victims of our previously poor choices…we are survivors. When we transition over from victim to survivor we get to live again. Our old way of thinking dies. Our old life of being controlled gains distance. We learn how to live again and find joy in it.

I love the smile on Anna’s face as she snaps pics of her new illustration in progress. This one is in honor of her son for whom she truly gets to mother for the first time. She is shopping! My sister HATES shopping. She shies from color. But look at the cool turquoise blouse popping against those vibrant colors on her chest. Awesome.

IMG_0691She is finally able to buy shoes again. I see jewelry. She is embracing her love for all things sparkly. She is truly a Pisces to lure. There were moments, very recently in fact, when she didn’t know how she was going to afford to put gas in her tank to get to work. But she is discovering, as many of us do, that there is life after death.

Be fearless. Survive. Then live.

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